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\Dwane Casey says he’s tight with Pistons ownership

Dwane Casey

Detroit Pistons head coach is certainly appreciative of his relationship with Pistons owner Tom Gores. While Casey is a man with his roots in the Deep South and Gores grew up in Michigan, the two share similar tales of athletic achievement, having both received scholarships to play for a top university after high school. Casey would attend the University of Kentucky, where he won a national championship in 1978. Gores attended Michigan State University.

In an interview with The Star‘s Dave Feschuk, Casey would discuss his relationship with Gores, whom he says he’s in contact with nearly every day.

“That kind of respect and relationship (with an owner) is good to have. Hopefully you develop an understanding that it takes time to build, that you’re not going to just flip a switch,” Casey said. “But I’m just energized, just excited. Got a chip on my shoulder to let people know you still can coach, that you weren’t the problem, you weren’t the reason we didn’t make the NBA Finals (in Toronto).”

There’s perhaps no greater evidence of the trust that Gores has placed in Casey than the five-year deal Casey signed to be the head coach of the Pistons in June.

With Raptors, Casey was subject to short-term deals. When Raptors president Masai Ujiri was hired in 2013, Casey was in the final year of his contract. The Raptors gave him a three-year contract extension with a team option for the third season. When they extended his contract again in 2016, it was another three-year contract extension. The Raptors fired him with one year remaining on his contract.

In effect, Casey signed three consecutive two-year deals with the Raptors. By comparison, being offered a five-year contract by Gores provides Casey with the type of assurance that he never had with Ujiri.

As Casey mentioned, the reasons he was fired wasn’t because he’s a bad coach. To the contrary, Casey brought the Raptors from a bottom-of-the-barrel team to the ranks of the elite. His emphasis on defense and player growth wasn’t enough for Toronto get past the buzzsaw they kept meeting in LeBron James, though.

With James in the Western Conference, Casey — and every other coach in the East — now has his best chance to take a team to the NBA Finals. Led by All-Star big men in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, Casey also has a talented squad that has the foundation they need to take the next step as a franchise.